When Colleyville officials went to Las Vegas in May for an international retail real estate conference, Whole Foods was their trump card.Marty Wieder, Colleyville Economic Development director, said the city’s trip to the annual International Council of Shopping Centers RECon convention was its most productive.“In terms of the history of the RECons I’ve attended, I undoubtedly think this was the best year simply because we have something like Whole Foods to lead with,” said Wieder. “That serves as a great entry or segue into discussions with people.”City leaders attend the convention to begin discussions that will attract new retail to their cities. Chuck Dannis, adjunct lecturer at the Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business and president of Crosson Dannis, a real estate consultation company, said deals are begun and made at the conference.“It is the single most important event for retailers every year. Something both cities and developers can’t miss,” he said. “Deals are made over a dinner table.”Whole Foods is expected to open by mid-2014 in the Village Park at Colleyville shopping center, which will be rebranded as Colleyville Downs, at Texas 26 and Glade Road.The Colleyville City Council voted unanimously in February to award a grant from the city's tax increment financing district to Centennial Real Estate Co. of Dallas. The grant gave Centennial $1.5 million in four installments during the first year of renovation at the Colleyville shopping center.Councilman Stan Hall said wrangling Whole Foods was an investment.“That’s probably the one thing that we’ve done that’s been a milestone in respect to economic development,” Hall said.At this year’s conference, the city promoted its Whole Foods acquisition on a banner.During past conferences, Wieder said the city purchased an advertorial explaining the advantages of investing in Colleyville. But this year, the Council took out a full-page advertisement that simply stated, “Colleyville welcomes Whole Foods.”“That lead to discussions,” Wieder said. “I had someone stop me when I was wearing my Colleyville shirt and say, ‘Hey Colleyville we want to talk to you.’ ”Hall said Colleyville is gaining name recognition.“A year ago, we were asking them to come to Colleyville and now, because of Whole Foods, we have a lot of people asking us,” Hall said. “In previous years, they would yawn and listen, and we never heard from them again. I didn’t get that impression this time.”Dannis, from SMU, said Whole Foods is attractive to other businesses in high demographic areas.“Once you have a major retailer make that commitment, that gives other retailers the due diligence that the demographics in the particular market fit our needs,” he said.The market for Whole Foods and other businesses taps into Colleyville’s middle- and upper-middle class households, Dannis said.“I am a little bit surprised that it’s taken Colleyville this long, but not surprised that they have a Whole Foods there,” he said. This article contains reports from the Star-Telegram archive.
Dustin L. Dangli, 817-390-7770 Twitter: @dussssstin